"what makes sense of human lives stays the same"

"what makes sense of human lives stays the same"

John Berger starts this video by introducing himself to read a letter by Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafan, grounding the viewer on our own time of the day and reminding us that time passes. He concludes, "But what makes sense of human lives stays the same." He doesn't say what this "same" is, and I stay hanging here, with my heart suspended, because he assumes that we all know what makes us all the same. I've been searching for this, the same, that could help us have a conversation that wouldn't ~ ever ~ consider violence against each other as a solution.  

I've been searching for the universal, this one thing that makes us all the same, besides the biological fact of flesh and bones and organs, because even that, we find ways to differentiate (age, race, disabilities, sex…). The only common denominator, universal ground, I've found for now is the womb. Every single human being lived part of their life inside of a womb. Sure, each womb was different, providing different nutrients, emotions, hormones, sounds, light, etc. Even the womb is different. But it is a womb. We all lived there right at the beginning of our lives. So, during the same time in each one of our lives, we were inside a womb, making the womb a universal experience for human beings. That, and of course, death. We will all die. That is the certainty, the promise. I've been saying these days, and I want to bring it here: death is an excellent metaphor for as long as we are alive. Death is the carrier of change, the relief of tiredness, and the ground from which we can uplift our souls. Death is the universal reality that remains once we leave the womb.  

And as I follow what this text brings to me, I question if I need to leave the womb. I suspect that the idea of leaving the womb is a dissociation created by our current system. This last week, I felt a profound shift within myself. A deep forgiving of my mother and acceptance of her being perfect in my life. Perfect as she was, as she is. The womb is always perfect because it is us. It is the only thing we have, the only option, the crude life. After that, we search, look for, and create a sense, the meaning of our human lives. The crude life is perhaps that "same" that Berger alluded to. While contemplating this, I want to return to Ghassan Kanafan's text, a letter to his friend containing this deep sense of reality contrasted to life in the US. 

I paused a couple of times as Kanafan wrote and Berger said "green California," thinking about how not green California is. A large portion of California was a dry land transformed into green by water pumping, immigrant/indigenous labor, and some of the greatest American ideals. The French dealt with it in the 1960s and 70s, this American ideal that suspended and distorted reality: the simulacra, the virtual, the deconstruction. The whole world tried to deal with it in sophisticated intellectual terms and in ambitious cultural propositions that, at the same time, absorbed this American ideal and transformed it into something more tangible locally. I'm from Brazil, so I think about Tropicalia, funk, and technobrega as successful movements in music that continue to shape our Brazilian experience in a deeply embodied way: "with roots in our feet and antennas in our heads" like I heard Elba Ramalho say when I was a child and never forgot. But Kanafan puts it most crudely to his friend because that's what is so evident in Palestine then and even more now. He asks his friend to return from Sacramento to Gaza "to learn what life is and what existence is worth."

This text that I'm writing is about the impact of Kanafan's text on me. And it is also about the impact that I wish his text would have on everyone. Then, finally, my text is about the question of whether or not we all can agree on reality as what makes life worth living if we can prevent ourselves from being allured and if we are able to not succumb to the American fake promises. If we can not buy into the lie of this system, in which the US is the leading carrier and the one that sustains it with force and violence, that says that each of us must realize ourselves individually. 

I wish I could write more. I'll need to start a new text to make the point I want to make. I can leave here this (even though it is incomplete and actually missing the point): most of us in these lands and at this time in history were denied -- by design -- a sense of reality; we were alienated and cut from our truth at a very young age by a series of systematic strategies perpetuated intentionally to do so. Our first experience of alienation most likely happened right at the moment of our birth, with a violent medicalized birth. Those of us who are very lucky will have glimpses of what reality is throughout our lives. We might touch truth in specific experiences that then mesmerize us. Or we might, if we are devoted to finding it and strong enough to sustain all the paths that lead us to that, have a more profound and incontestable experience of truth. To me, giving birth to my two children were these incontestable experiences of truth, which I could build from having glimpses of what reality is through orgasm, through following my bodily rhythms, and through decisively denying the attempts of intrusion from the system with its demands for labor, medicalization, and schooling.